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Moving to Alaska for Free?

September 11th, 2019 - 12:49 PM

How much do you get paid to live in Alaska?

There are rumors you can move to Alaska for free or earn money to move there. Unfortunately, they’re not true — but you can get paid to live there. The state’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) Program provides all of Alaska’s permanent residents (both children and adults) a small portion of the state’s oil wealth annually. So if you’re planning to live there full-time, you could start getting checks every year!

chart showing Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Amounts from 1982 to 2018

According to the Alaska Department of Revenue, PFD amounts have ranged from $331 to $2,072 per person since 1982. In 2018, the payout was $1,600 per person.

Fun fact: If a person were eligible for dividend checks since the program began in 1982, they would have received a total of $42,821.41 to date!

History of the Alaska PFD

In 1969, 164 tracts of state-owned land were auctioned to an oil company for $900 million — sparking much debate about where the money should go. The governor at the time pushed for it to go directly to the people in the state, and many shared his idea. In 1976, voters established the Permanent Fund Program, which put the earnings into a fund to save for future Alaskans. The first check was distributed in 1982.

Alaska residency requirements 

Want to receive these benefits? Become a resident! As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, you can begin receiving the dividend. For 2019, the requirements are:

  • Must be a resident a full calendar year (January 1-December 31)
  • Must have the intent to remain an Alaskan for life
  • You aren’t claiming residency in any other state or country
  • Haven’t been sentenced as a result of a felony convicted during 2018
  • Haven’t been incarcerated as a result of a felony during 2018
  • Haven’t been incarcerated as a result of a misdemeanor during 2018
  • Not absent from Alaska for more than 180 days
  • You were physically present in Alaska for 72 consecutive hours during 2017 or 2018

Not everyone who applies meets the criteria. In 2018, 670,759 people applied, but only 629,820 received payments. Before you pack up with the intent of receiving the dividend, make sure you meet the requirements.

How to establish residency in Alaska

One of the most important eligibility requirements for the PFD is establishing residency. You’ll have to prove residency with intent to remain in one of several ways:

  • Moving household goods to Alaska and providing a shipping receipt 
  • Showing proof of a lease or rental agreement in applicant’s name
  • Showing proof of home purchase
  • Showing proof of moorage/boat harbor fees (if living in a vessel)
  • Showing proof of employment, such as a W2 or paystub
  • Showing proof of Alaska driver’s license or ID
  • Showing proof of vehicle registration (vehicle or truck, not motorcycle or motorhome)
  • Showing proof of state benefits that require residency like Senior Benefits or Alaska Housing
  • Showing proof of voter registration

If you show any intent to not stay permanently — like if you register to vote in another state or country or take actions that are deemed inconsistent with your intention to remain in Alaska indefinitely — the Alaska Department of Revenue will disqualify your application for the program. Keep in mind that you can’t become a resident while absent from Alaska (unless it’s an allowable absence, like for the military or college).

Spending the Alaska residency check

Once you start receiving the checks, you can spend the money however you like! Many residents use it to offset the costs of living in the state, while others take vacations or save it for retirement or big purchases. The funds are not taxed by the state (because there’s no statewide income tax), but residents do have to pay federal income tax on the payments. It gets claimed as regular income for children and adults.

Looking for more information?

If you have questions about the rumors on moving to Alaska for free, establishing residency in Alaska or applying for the PFD, please leave a comment below. We’re happy to help. 

You may also be interested in this comprehensive resource on moving to Alaska.

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